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Prime Minister Welcomes Lower Drinking Age

MEDIA STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Tuesday 30 November 1999

PRIME MINISTER WELCOMES LOWER DRINKING AGE

Prime Minister Jenny Shipley called on New Zealand to develop a culture of moderation as the lower drinking age comes into effect.

"The lower drinking age is a victory for commonsense. New Zealand 18 and 19-year-olds are responsible enough to drink alcohol in pubs and cafes, and I welcome our society's recognition of that," said Mrs Shipley.

Tomorrow, changes to New Zealand's liquor laws come into force. They include:
Drinking age lowered to 18 years; Sunday trading; Tougher penalties for traders caught selling to underage drinkers, and, instant fines for people underage caught drinking.

"I have personally supported lowering the drinking age from 20 to 18 years with two conditions – that photo id be used for proof of age, and that much stronger penalties were introduced.

"New Zealand must also work hard to change attitudes to alcohol consumption, with a move towards responsible and moderate drinking. 18 and 19 year olds must be encouraged to drink safely."

Mrs Shipley praised the Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council and the Hospitality Association for encouraging industry responsibility since the Parliament passed the law, particularly establishing the 18+ id card.

"I am pleased that industry had taken a strong line: No card no service. Bar operators should now be able to verify the age of drinkers with more confidence so that minors are not served.

"Families must also take more responsibility in controlling their children's access to alcohol. Parents must also share the responsibility of knowing where their young people are in the early hours of the morning.

"We must do so based on strong values of personal responsibility and a confidence in the type of society we are able to develop into.

"I am pleased that New Zealand has taken the opportunity to challenge society's attitudes to drinking. We now look to 18 and 19 year olds to prove that we have made the right decision for them. The ball's in their court. I encourage them not to let us down," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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